Wait, there's gluten in your mayo? In your salad dressing? Even in your pickles? Yep, the universal enemy of celiacs is lurking places you'd least expect. So how what do you need to know to stock your pantry with staples that keep you feeling good—while keeping that sandwich tasty?
The numbers show that the prevalence of gluten intolerance and celiac disease is on the rise in the U.S., and as awareness about gluten grows, even those who aren’t sensitive to wheat protein are opting to go gluten-free. Whether you suspect you have an allergy, want to eliminate inflammation in joints and nerves, or just think cutting gluten will help you make healthier choices, start your journey by overhauling your pantry and keeping these gluten-free staples on hand.
A really good cooking oil
A baguette dipped in olive oil may be out of the question, but you’ll still want amazing oil for cooking. Regular old vegetable oil isn't going to cut it, as many contain gluten. Olive oil and coconut oil are both great options, but if you’re looking for something with a little upgrade, try MCT oil. Medium chain triglycerides make up MCT oil, the same fatty goodness you find in coconut oil, except with a more concentrated dose of those healthy triglycerides. Plus, it doesn’t have a coconutty taste, so it won't mess with the flavor profile of your food.
A nut butter you can trust
The manufacturing plants that process peanut and other nut butters can’t always guarantee that there hasn’t been gluten exposure to your favorite sandwich spread. If you’re celiac, cross contamination can actually be a big problem. Choose a nut butter that you know won’t be a problem by checking packaging for the 'Certified Gluten-Free' label.
A gluten-free flour mix that tastes great
Sometimes, pancakes are the only answer to the question, "What’s for breakfast?" Just because you broke up with gluten doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a baked good every now and then. Using a non-traditional flour can make baking really tricky, because nut flours and other grains interact in a different way with ingredients like baking soda than regular white flour does. From pancakes to biscuits, a pre-mixed gluten-free baking mix makes baking really easy and takes all the guesswork out of making your own gluten-free goodies.
Gluten-free grains like millet, quinoa, and rice
Nope, you don’t need to be afraid of these ancient grains. Millet, quinoa, and even white rice are on the "safe to eat" list for celiacs. Get your daily carb fix by loading these grains onto your plate with veggies and protein. Remember, grains can be dense in calories, so watch it—fill up on vegetables and protein if you’re worried about gaining weight.
All-natural jerky to up your protein intake
You know by now that gluten doesn’t just pop up on labels for baked goods. But it's not just cakes and doughnuts you need to watch out for—lots of artificial flavors contain gluten, so even products that you wouldn’t dream would upset your stomach just might. Traditional beef jerky is guilty of containing hidden gluten, plus some nasty sulfites and preservatives that you don’t necessarily want in your body. But jerky can make an easy and healthy snack if you pick the right kind. Go with an all-natural brand to limit your exposure to chemicals and gluten.
Condiments you know are safe for consumption
Barbeque sauce, salad dressing, and soy sauce sometimes contain wheat. The good news? The gluten-free versions usually aren't that different when it comes to flavor. Try coconut aminos in lieu of soy sauce, and organic, gluten-free dressings instead of the processed version. With these staples in your pantry, you'll be your own personal gluten-free chef—which is good for your belly and your budget.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont